Former Shark Tank judge and entrepreneur Ashneer Grover said that his wife, Madhuri Jain, and him were stopped at the Indira Gandhi International Airport by the Delhi Police before leaving for New York on Thursday, 16 November.
The Delhi Police's Economic Offences Wing (EOW) stopped the BharatPe co-founder from flying out of the country, days after a lookout circular (LoC) was issued against him.
"I was going to US from 16-23 November. At immigration they said LoC laga hua hai sir - EOW se check kar ke batate hai (LoC has been issued and we will update you after checking with the EOW)," Grover wrote on X (formerly Twitter).
One of India's most popular startup investors and entrepreneurs, read more about the man who has been embroiled in controversy since the past two years.
A Series of Professional Highs
Kotak Investment Banking, 2006
After having earned a BTech degree from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi and MBA from the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Ahmedabad, Ashneer Grover took up a job at Kotak Investment Banking, according to his LinkedIn profile.
He worked there for seven years until he left the company in 2013 as vice president. At Kotak, Grover claims to have worked on 10 deals of $3 billion transaction value pertaining to various sectors such as retail, oil and gas, telecom, media, manufacturing, and real estate.
American Express, 2013
From Kotak, Grover moved to credit card company American Express, where he was the director of corporate development. He spent almost two years in this role, where he claimed to have led the Series B investment in MobiKwik, a popular digital wallet in India.
Grover's experience with MobiKwik would prove useful later in the founding of BharatPe, as this was his first foray into the fintech space.
Grofers (Now Blinkit), 2015
Grofers was Ashneer Grover’s first stint with a unicorn (startup valued at more than $1billion). He joined Grofers at its infancy in 2015 as the chief financial officer, where he worked side-by-side with founders Albinder Dhindsa and Saurabh Kumar.
At Grofers, Grover claims to have raised $170 million from venture capital investors such as SoftBank, Tiger, Sequoia Capital, and Yuri Milner.
PC Jeweller, 2017
Grover joined PC Jeweller in 2017, where he was the head of New Business for a year. Grover led the digital transformation and strategy here, and has said that he enabled PayTM, PhonePe, Pine Labs, Magic Pin, and Qwikcilver at the company.
This helped further digitise the jewellery company’s business, and gave Grover a deeper look into the market of digital payment apps. Grover, in his role, claims to have consolidated e-commerce operations under the brand of PCJ, and prepared the company for the “next phase of consumer experience driven growth and diversification into adjacent businesses.”
In 2018, Grover co-founded BharatPe, a platform that allows business owners to be able to easily accept payments from customers from any payment app, simplifying the digital payment process for them.
Grover was the co-founder and CEO of the company till 2021, after which he was the managing director.
His success with BharatPe is also what made him a pick to judge the reality show Shark Tank, where contestants present their startup ideas to judges, who are prospective investors.
Towards early 2022, however, Grover was mired in controversy as allegations of inappropriate behaviour and financial misappropriation were levelled against him by his own company.
The Allegations Against Ashneer Grover
BharatPe revealed that an internal investigation had found that Grover, his wife Madhuri, Madhuri’s brother-in-law Deepak Gupta, her brother Shwetank Jain, and her father Suresh Jain had allegedly "engaged in extensive misappropriation of company funds."
This was "including, but not limited to, creating fake vendors through which they siphoned money away from the company’s expense account and grossly abused company expense accounts in order to enrich themselves and fund their lavish lifestyles," said BharatPe.
These allegations culminated in Grover's resignation and led to Madhuri Jain, BharatPe's then head of controls, being sacked.
In his resignation letter, Grover claimed that he had been vilified by the fintech company. “Investor-Founder relation in India is one of Master-Slave. I am the rebel slave who must be hung by the tree so none of the other slaves can dare to be like me ever again,” the letter read.
On Wednesday, the Delhi Police's EOW registered an FIR against Grover and Madhuri based on BharatPe's complaint against them. BharatPe has alleged that the accused committed fraud of approximately ₹81.28 crore, according to The Hindu.
Grover and his family members have been booked under sections 409 (criminal breach of trust by public servant, banker), 420 (cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property), 416 (cheating by impersonation), 467 (forgery of valuable security), and 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code.
The entrepreneur has denied all charges.